July is normally the driest month in Los Angeles. Last weekend was a completely different story. The storm from Mexico bought in heavy rain, lightning and thunder. It felt like it rained more over the weekend than many days during the past rainy season. The rain wasn’t too much of a problem. It was the humidity. Oh my, it felt like Hong Kong. That hot and humid weather that makes everything sticky. Yuck… The good news was that our new home has air conditioning, so we were able to sit in the dry and cool house for a few hours.
There was one interesting incident happened during the storm. I woke up early Saturday morning. With the rainy clouds, the sun didn’t shine through. The sky was very dark. I didn’t turn on the lights and sat down in the dark living room. All I cared about was my emails and instagram pictures. All of the sudden, the desk light turned on! I was sitting far away from it. No way it could be me who did that. The internet modem restarted out of nowhere as well. Right when I was trying to understand what was going on, I heard a loud thunder. For sure, it was the lightning or the static in the air. Whew… It did scared me for a bit. If it really was a ghost, it has to be our old guinea pig Tuna. 🙂
Cold treat is the only thing that would make hot weather better! This strawberry semifreddo will do it. What is a semifreddo? It is an Italian dessert that means half-cold. It is kind of in between ice cream, creamy popsicle and mousse. It is a combination of custard, meringue, and whipped cream. Freeze it and cut to serve. It sounds complicated, but it is a lot easier once you are working on it. It tasted so light, creamy and fresh. They are gorgeous looking which make the perfect dessert to serve for a summer dinner party! Your guests will thank you!
– 6 cups strawberries (about 2¼ pounds) (½ cut into slices and ½ cup into halves)
– ¾ cup sugar (divided)
– 1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
– 5 large egg yolks
– 4 large egg whites
– 2 teaspoons orange zest
– pinch of salt
- Line an 8-inch square metal pan with plastic wrap, allowing the excess to hang over the 2 sides. Keep in the freezer until ready to use.
- In a medium saucepan, add the sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. Mash coarsely with a potato masher or fork. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat until slightly thicken and almost like jam, stirring occasionally, about 6 – 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool over a big bowl of ice water. Once it is cooled, keep in the fridge.
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.
- In a large pot filled with 1-inch water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
- In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons orange zest. Place the bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk until the mixture is almost double in volume and thick and creamy, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitter with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg white and pinch of salt until foamy with tiny bubbles. Slowly add 7 tablespoons sugar. Beat over medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Stir half of the strawberry mixture into the yolk mixture. Mix well. Fold this mixture into the egg white until just blended. Then add the whipped cream and fold until mixed. Add the rest of the strawberry mixture and gently fold in by leaving some streaks. Pour everything into the prepared pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Transfer to freezer and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.
- 1 hour before serving, cut the rest of the strawberries in half. Toss with 2 tablespoons sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- When ready to serve, unwrap the semifreddo and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 8 rectangles. Transfer to serving plates. Top with the strawberries. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
- The semifreddo can be made 3 days ahead.
- Feel free to use any container you want, even many small individual containers. My 8-inch square pan is not a standard size, so I have leftover. I put the rest in a silicone pyramid baking mold.
- If using silicone mold, there is no need to line with plastic wrap.
(Adapted from Sunset Magazine April 2015)